News - 04/11/2014

Longtime Math Instructor Honored as MiraCosta College’s Philanthropist of the Year

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Mathematics professor Mohammed Rajah, who has donated more than $100,000 to fund student scholarships since his tenure at MiraCosta College began in 1975, has been named the college’s Philanthropist of the Year.

Rajah will be honored at MiraCosta College’s Spring Celebration of Excellence on April 18.

Rajah, a staunch believer in financially supporting scholarships and campus programs, is known for encouraging others to join him in his philanthropy, and his department has the highest payroll giving participation rate on campus. Hundreds of students have benefited from his generosity.

“We are very fortunate to have a job, to have a salary. It is up to us to help people who don’t have as much as we do,” Rajah said. “Some of our students can’t even afford to buy books. We should do everything we can to help them so they can get a good education.”

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Born in Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean some 500 miles east of Madagascar, Rajah was raised by parents who instilled a sense of empathy toward others and a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate.

Rajah’s contributions go far beyond monetary. Former MiraCosta College Associated Student Government President Adam Frye said Rajah was generous with his advice and support, too.

“He motivated me so much,” said Frye, who is studying aeronautical engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “He was strict, but he was always there to help his students and he was always willing to make time to meet with you.”

Richard Huizar, an honors scholar who will graduate in May, agreed with Frye. “He’s very passionate about what he does,” Huizar said. “He also is very good at discerning whether a person is putting the time into their work, and if he sees you are putting in the effort, he will go out of his way to help you. He really cares about his students.”

The MiraCosta Cares! Philanthropist of the Year Award is given to a faculty or staff member who has provided or inspired significant financial support to MiraCosta College. In 2012, an anonymous donor established the MiraCosta College Cares Scholarship Endowment in recognition of employee generosity and asked the MiraCosta College Foundation to honor a faculty or staff member for their extraordinary philanthropic spirit, every year, in perpetuity.

“There is no country in the world that gives as much to other people as the United States and the people of the United States,” Rajah said. “It is a great tradition, and I am just trying to help be part of that tradition.”

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